President Barack Obama toured the Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago on Friday and announced his plans for an "Energy Security Trust" to further clean energy research and development in the U.S.
The trust, which will be funded by federal royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling and not add to the budget deficit, will provide for $2 billion in research over the next 10 years. According to the White House, it will advance research into technologies like electric vehicle batteries, biofuels and hydrogen fuel cells.
Obama said on Friday at Argonne, "We have to keep investing in scientific research," and lamented the impact of the federal budget sequester on U.S. research. "We can't afford to miss these opportunities while the rest of the world races forward," the president argued.
Obama's plan also funds natural gas research, furthering the president's forthright support of an "all of the above" energy strategy and "responsibly tapping" U.S. natural gas reserves.
The president's "Blueprint for a Clean and Secure Energy Future" advocates for "accelerating the growth" of natural gas in the transportation sector. Although increased utilization of natural gas is partially responsible for a decline in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, significant leakage of methane -- a shorter-lived but more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 -- may negate environmental benefits over coal.
Obama's "blueprint" also gives a nod to the coal industry with "significant funding for clean coal technology." Carbon sequestration from coal-fired power plants has been called "mythical" by environmentalists, who have criticized Obama's Energy secretary nominee, Ernest Moniz, for supporting the concept.
The president originally proposed the Energy Security Trust in his 2013 State of the Union address. "If a nonpartisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we," he declared. "Let’s take their advice and free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long."
Obama's Energy Security Trust proposal comes as his administration is reportedly looking to delay expected regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants. The Washington Post reported Friday, "several individuals briefed on the matter" indicated the proposal may be revised, signaling a delay in the long-awaited rules.
According to Bloomberg, the president is also considering using a Nixon-era law to instruct all federal agencies to consider the impact of climate change when approving "major projects, from pipelines to highways."
CORRECTION: An earlier headline for this post stated "clean coal" investments were part of the "Energy Security Trust." They are merely part of Obama's overall "all of the above" energy strategy.
Clarification: Language has been amended in this post to better characterize the relationship between the use of natural gas and U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.